Manufacturing deal helps Inventor-e target £multi-million ‘industrial vending’ opportunity

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A manufacturing collaboration born in the West Midlands is helping satisfy increasing demand for industrial inventory management solutions in the midst of Covid-19.

PP Control & Automation and Solihull-based inventory management at the point of use specialist Inventor-e has signed a deal that will extend its partnership to make the most of £multi-million global opportunities to supply SmartStores Secure cloud-based technological innovation to customers around the world.

The relationship has seen the two businesses collaborate to develop a secure industrial vending machine cabinet, specifically designed for unmanned/remote stores. These are accessed via an app to effectively manage and control the usage of expensive items.

It is the culmination of initial discussions that first took place in 2013, before a more formal agreement was entered into in 2019 that saw PP C&A support the design, development and manufacture of the systems at its world class facility in the West Midlands.

A dedicated production cell was established to cut lead times by 20% and help increase capacity to cope with new orders from high profile clients, such as Babcock International and Rexel.

“This is an ideal example of how important ‘outsourcing’ can be for technology disruptors looking to scale-up quickly and get their innovations to market. Inventor-e is continually developing new solutions for point-of-use vending and that’s what it needs to concentrate on to stay at the forefront of the market,” continued Tony Hague, CEO of PP Control & Automation.

“The company needed a manufacturing partner who can not only grow with it, but also contribute its own production knowledge to develop solutions that will improve the end service for the customer – something we have a proven track record of doing and have applied to this project.”

He continued: “It is a very exciting time for Inventor-e as Covid-19 has made firms consider how they minimise human contact but still operate effectively. SmartStores Secure delivers on an operational front and also on legal compliance, so sales are expected to accelerate quickly.”

As part of the ongoing agreement, PP Control & Automation has worked with Inventor-e to develop the products for the North American marketplace, ensuring all systems are fully approved to the relevant UL quality standards.

It has also taken on supply chain management for the builds and this has seen the company bring in two Manufacturing Assembly Network (MAN) member companies.

Tony went on to add: “We identified the need for additional support with overall design requirements and the development of the electronics element of the build so brought in trusted partners Grove Design and CMAC-SMT.

“This widened the working relationship further and their specialist expertise has been critical in helping us speed up production and deliver optimum performance for the end user. It really is a great tale of UK manufacturing collaboration.”

Andy Ingram, Sales Director at Inventor-e, added his support: Strategic outsourcing with PP Control & Automation is allowing us to extend our global reach with a trusted partner, without the significant direct cost of setting up our own manufacturing facilities.

“We are very pleased with how the partnership has developed. By working together, we offer our rapidly growing customer base the best of both worlds, enabling them to benefit from both organisation’s respective strengths – it’s a win-win all around.”

For further information, please visit or follow @ppcanda on twitter. More information on the SmartStores Secure can be found at